ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING (ANULOMA VILOMA)
Alternate nostril breathing, Anuloma Viloma (also called Nadi Shodana), occupies a central place in the practice of Pranayama, mainly because of its balancing effects on both sides of the body, especially on the two brain hemispheres, the right side being related to creative and artistic abilities, and the left side managing reasoning and intellectual capacities such as memory, speech and cognitive learning. A regular practice of this exercise hence allows a more harmonious functioning of our brain and the capacities inherent to each hemisphere.
It also constitutes an excellent preparation for meditation since the frequency and amplitude of the brain waves find themselves naturally reduced after only a few rounds of this exercise.
1- Sitting crossed legs, back straight, neck in line with the spine, eyes closed.
2- Left hand on the knee, thumb and index together (Chin Mudra).
3- Right hand up, index and annular bent (Vishnu Mudra).
4- Inhale through both nostrils.
5- Close the right nostril and exhale through the left completely. The exercise starts now.
6- Inhale through left nostril on 4 seconds.
7- Hold the breath for 16 seconds, closing both nostrils with the thumb and the annular.
8- Exhale through the right on 8 seconds.
9- Inhale through the right on 4 seconds.
10- Hold the breath for 16 seconds.
11- Exhale through the left for 8 seconds. This constitutes one round.
12- Practice like this 5 to 10 rounds.
Reduce the retention's duration to 10 or 12 seconds if 16 is too long. But make sure you keep the same count of 4 sec. on inhalation and 8 sec. on exhalation. The ratio for inhalation, retention, exhalation is respectively 1-4-2, for example, inhale 4, hold 16, exhale 8, or inhale 5, hold 20, exhale 10, etc...
Relax a few minutes after the practice of this pranayama, to let the nervous system assimilate the effects of the exercise.
- Oxygenates and balances both brain hemispheres.
- Optimizes gaseous exchanges (oxygen and carbon dioxide).
- Relaxes the brain by reducing the frequency and amplitude of brain waves.
- Calms down the mind and the emotions.
- Increases energetic potential.
- Contributes to a better management of stress through its action on the parasympathetic system, responsible for the "rest and restore" function of the organism.
On an energetic level, the goal of this exercise is to purify and activate two energy channels (Nadis) located along the spine: Ida, on the left side, representing the lunar and feminine aspect of the energy, and Pingala, on the right side, representing the solar and masculine aspect. Classical texts on Yoga mention that the full awakening of Consciousness can only manifest when Ida and Pingala have been purified and awakened, through the practice of Pranayama, among other means.
Practice without retention in case of:
- High blood pressure.
- Lungs damage.